Linda Cohn has long been considered a pioneer women sportscaster. She has graced our television sets for over 23 years as one of the first full-time female sports anchors. A fixture on SportsCenter for nearly a quarter of a century, Linda reached a milestone with ESPN’s signature news and information program on her 5000th show on Feb 2016. Being a pioneer, she has many leadership insights and experience. Here are some highlights from our interview:
What advice would you give women just starting in a leadership role?
Remember …You would not be put into this role if someone didn’t believe in you. Meaning, be authentic. Be yourself. You need to be who are and not change. You need to use your life experiences and realize not everyone will be following your journey because they are not like you.
How do you manage conflict?
The first thing I do is take a deep breath… That way, I stay in the moment and I make sure that I am not letting my emotions drive me as opposed to my brain. When I take a deep breath, I get clarity and start thinking the way I should. Whether it’s conflict or whether it’s adversity (anything I can’t control), I have found that it has worked well because then I don’t rush to judgement.
What motivates you to achieve?
My motivation comes from within. It must have been when I was a young girl, growing up with very low self –esteem and being in a position that I did not stand out, that I melted into the world, that I was so shy. I didn’t believe that anyone knew that I existed or wanted to hear from me. And so, it’s hard to rid myself of that inner child but I use it to motivate me… I am always looking to stand out [in a way] that leaves an impact on others, in a way that I can help people.
What was the most difficult personal challenge and how did you overcome it?
In my business and being in the media, having to deal with other people’s opinions of me when it’s not based upon facts or science, its’ just subjective … then being able to keep inner confidence in my ability and belief that I am that good or that I am good at what I do and it doesn’t matter what other people think.
How do you define leadership presence?
You can command a room and get attention without raising your voice. You do so by having confidence in yourself… Being true to yourself and taking ownership of everything that you are saying… It’s really about the quality of what you say as well as your actions as opposed to the quantity of words you use and the decibel level of how you say it. An example of someone with presence is Robin Roberts of Good Morning America. I worked with her at ESPN way back when. When she walks into a room, you want to hear what she has to say, you want to hear about her life experiences.